Wednesday, February 19, 2014

No More Need for Bootleggers - Vermont's Liquor Industry Thrives

By Manfried Rieder Starhemberg

Superb display of Vermont made liquors at "Little G's"

Barr Hill Gin - the local favorite

Well received since it began: Sapling Vt. hand crafted liquors

Owner George Azur exchanging the local news with a friend

A Newport landmark: Little G's at the causeway bridge

Its been a long time since prohibition where the area thrived with bootleggers crossing the dark forests of Vermont on their way south to deliver the Canadian booze to thirsty consumers in the warmer latitudes of New England. Now Vermont has a thriving liquor industry and the home grown products are becoming known internationally. This is in part due to the efforts of the staff of Michael J. Hogan, the enthusiastic commissioner of the Vermont Department of Liquor Control.They publish an elegant quarterly publication which showcases new Vermont products in every issue and with one of those in hand we went to see how the product looks like.
In Newport City there is only one state licensed outlet, the famous and long established Little G's. It sits on the edge of the causeway bridge and is a morning gathering place of local dignitaries and truckers, hunters, loggers and the people from the grain company across the street. Other than coffee and breakfast, sundries and gossip, there is a superb display on liquors and when asked if we could see some of the Vermont booze featured in the newest "Spirits Guide", owner George Azur raised his eyes slightly and following this hint found above our head a sign advising that this scribe was standing next to the display of Vermont made products. A reporter from the "New Yorker" would possibly have been able to figure this out by his lonesome.
"What are the best sellers ?" we asked and George pointed out an almost empty shelf of  Barr Hill Gin. "I can't keep enough of it in stock - you see there are only two bottles left right now". The other favorites seem maple syrup flavored products, many made under the brand name "Sapling" and include cordials, Whiskeys and Bourbons.
The array is impressive ranging from Vermont Ice Apple Cream or Maple Cream to the great Dunc's Mill Maple Rum or their award winning Elderflower Rum. Most other Vermont producers also stick with variations of the vodka, rum, bourbon and whiskey theme but by varying ingredients to subtly flavor their potions have created a unique drinking experience influenced by locally grown berries, syrups or fruit.
So, if you are interested in a novel drink, build your own mixers around this new crop of Vermont distilled treats. George Azur will gladly aid you in selecting something unique.

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